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Advanced Task Killer Sounds like a Winner of an App

Now, unlike the Apple iPhone, the Droid can run more than one app at a time. This sounds like a fantastic feature, and a major selling point. Unfortunately, it is very hard to turn an app off, so it doesn’t take long for the phone to become overwhelmed. How big of a problem is this? The number one downloaded app in the Droid app store is “Advanced Task Killer” an app you must use dozens of times a day to kill apps that are slowing down your phone.

Much more here: Thoughts on the Downside of the Droid — Seeking Alpha

Android vs. Google Part II

AppleInsider | First AT&T phone with Google Android will feature Yahoo search

As the Backflip will mark the first time U.S. customers under contract with AT&T will have the option to choose between Android and the iPhone, every Motorola Backflip that AT&T sells might potentially be at the expense of an iPhone.

That Backflip sold will not generate Google any ad revenue since it will offer Yahoo/Microsoft search exclusively. Nor will the Backflip generate any license revenue for Google, because Android is licensed without a fee.

If that buyer would instead have bought an iPhone, the search from mobile Safari would have some non-zero value.

It is therefore pretty obvious that, at least in this instance, Android is destroying value for Google.

See also:

Android vs. Google (part I)

Droid is now $50

90% off. Motorola DROID A855 Android Phone (Verizon Wireless): Cell Phones & Service

Almost 20k apps Have Been Removed From the App Store

Total Apps Approved: 180534

Total Available Apps: 161262

In related news: the total number of apps on the Android Market is now almost 30,000.


Android vs. Google

When I heard about Android being positioned against the iPhone, I thought about how that decision must have been justified internally at Google. I wondered how Andy Rubin added up the benefits of his product vs. the risks of losing whatever value Google derived from the iPhone.

On the benefits side, Android’s original business plan called for zero direct revenues with indirect revenues from search. The actual value would be somewhat dubious during the half decade it will take to get a significant installed base. Of course, with the Google-as-retailer model, Android can also be justified as earning some margin from devices, but as we’ve seen, these numbers don’t add up to much.

On the risk side there is the potential loss of the screen real estate on the iPhone (see photo above). Being the default search engine in mobile Safari might be worth hundreds of millions to Google.

Silicon Alley Insider reports a rumor that Apple’s current deal with Google to provide default search functionality for the iPhone is currently worth over $100 million per year to Apple in revenue sharing.

So the iPhone may be a bigger money maker for Google than Android will, at least for a long time.

Which begs the question of whether by picking a fight with Apple, Android is biting the hand that feeds it.

If there is any logic to this Android adventure it might be that Google really feels it needs to have an option on the future mobile computing platform and that Android is worth the risk of losing placement on the iPhone.

I, for one, don’t think this is a risk worth taking.

Nexus One: 80k units in first month -Flurry

Google sold about 80,000 Nexus One smart phones in their first month on the market, according research firm Flurry,Dow Jones Newswires reports.

By contrast, Apple sold about 600,000 iPhones when it launched the device in 2007, the story notes; the Motorola Droid sold 525,000 in the first month, according to Flurry.

Flurry estimates sales by measuring mobile applications usage and then extrapolating overall ownership.

Andy Rubin, head of Android said they hoped to sell 150k units, so this would be a very good start for the brand.

I would also like to estimate the revenue that Google probably earned from this phone so far. Assuming HTC receives a gross margin of 35% and the bill of materials is $174, then Google would have a gross income from the device of about $270/unit (based on $529 price).

Google could still have to pay for shipping, returns, warranties, etc. so their income might be closer to $220.

The income before operating expenses would therefore be $17.5 million in the first month.

I should point out that this would be the first income Android has ever received as the software is available free of charge.

HTC: Hard to Compete

HTC is the world’s fourth largest smartphone company. It ships 80% of all Windows Mobile and probably a similar proportion of Android devices. Like Microsoft in 2003, Google turned to HTC for its first smartphone, the G1 and its latest, the co-branded Nexus One. The company shipped a total of 11.7 million mobile phones in 2009.

It would appear that HTC is very well positioned in what amounts to be the best industry in technology.

However, not all is well. A few days ago HTC issued revenue guidance below analyst estimates and its stock price is at 2005 levels, 70% off its peak (see graph–source: Google finance).

Part of this could be explained by its continuing reliance on Windows Mobile which is fading fast, but also it’s because, as management acknowledged, there is significant price pressure.

HTC prides itself with having a “premier” product with typically high-end feature sets and positioning. HTC invested in its own UI to differentiate its products and has mounted a branding campaign to move away from being a white-label ODM.

It seems all for nought. The rules of the smartphone market do not favor modular component players. As HTC does not front its own OS, it still struggles to stand out in the eyes of the consumer.

Looking at the list of top 3 vendors: Nokia, RIM and Apple, we see hardware companies that field an integrated OS/service bundle.

It’s hard to compete against this.

Two Million Droids

During the reported quarter, Motorola shipped 12 million mobile phones, commanding a global market share of just 3.7%. However, the newly launched two Android 3G smartphones CLIQ and DROID witnessed impressive results. Launched in the fourth quarter of 2009, these two devices generated sales of 2 million units together in the quarter.

Not sure what’s impressive about getting 2 million units sold after $100 million in promotion by Verizon.

Google the Shopkeeper

The Nexus One is an HTC branded and developed phone. The only thing that Google is doing (beside the software) is acting as retailer.

Still don’t see what the point is as a Web page does not make a very good retail experience for a phone. It reminds me of when the iPhone was launched, Apple’s head of retail said that their stores were basically “built for this type of product”.

Om Malik Interviews Google’s Mobile Chief Andy Rubin

Regarding Android partners like Verizon and Motorola being upset about the Nexus One:

“People shouldn’t focus too much on the device (Nexus One),” said Rubin. “What’s more important is the strategy behind the devices.”

John Gruber:

Yes, what better way to get the press not to focus on a device than to hold a big press conference to announce a device, talk about how great it is, and give one away to everyone who attends?

Is Android Disruptive?

The common thread among the Android fans is that Google is the agent of disruption of a hated operator business model. Since disruption is well understood (though not by many) it is fairly easy to evaluate this hypothesis.

The problem with disrupting network operators is that disruption can only happen when the underlying service/product they provide becomes “good enough” i.e. more than what customers can absorb. A new basis of competition emerges and we all know what happens.

Here’s the problem: since mobile broadband is by all accounts not good enough, it cannot be disrupted. Operators are very critical in building out this new mobile computing future and they are investing and will reap rewards. Bitpipe models will only emerge after 4G when there will be ubiquitous high speed networks and competition will shift away from coverage and more to price and convenience of plans.

What is happening instead of operator disruption is that mobile voice which is more than good enough is being disrupted. Businesses built around mobile voice (e.g. handset vendors who have not developed a viable business model around data) will simply evaporate and their profits will condense around entrants who have mobile computing platforms.

Google is moving on this opportunity but they are not executing in a way that ensures they control the future platform due to the their being on the wrong side of the modular/integrated dichotomy.

Android will disrupt but I expect it will take 10 to 15 years. The life cycle of a new global network generation rollout is about 10 years. We’re in the middle stage of the 3G cycle that traces its beginnings to early this decade. 4G will take another 10 years.